St. John's University
“We want to create a better world on a healthy planet.” Mars Incorporated has a mission to leave the world a better place for future generations and to save the planet from the scientific evidence of its downfall. The company is an American multinational manufacturer of candies and sweets, pet food, and other food products and a provider of animal care services. They believe that a better world is one where people have access to healthy meals, and acknowledge that it starts with the companies who provide the food and their partnering suppliers. The company has a ‘Sustainable Generation Plan’ that follows mainly three pillars that align directly with certain SDGs. The first pillar is a ‘healthy planet’, which aligns with SDG 13. The second pillar is ‘thriving people’, which aligns with SDG 1. Last but not least, the third pillar is ‘nourishing well-being’, which aligns with SDG 3. These three pillars are the broad plans set in place by Mars to attain its goal of creating a better tomorrow.
The goal of the healthy planet pillar is to reduce environmental impacts by relying on science to understand what future marks to hit to be sustainable. Mars has a very ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050 for all three scopes of their business, from the farmers in the field to their consumers. To stay on track they also have an interim target for 2025. Mars also has a target goal of reducing unsustainable water use in their value chains by 50% come 2025. Mars has taken initiative to contribute to a cleaner environment. In 2020 the company reports a decrease of 7.5% in greenhouse gas emissions. Actions speak louder than words and Mars is progressing toward a net-zero operation. “Mars is already using or purchasing renewable electricity to cover more than 54% of our total electricity footprint, including 100% at our sites in Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Francy, Hungary, Lituania, Mexico, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom.” The company is on track to add India to the list along with the United States, while also working to increase its renewable electricity sourcing around the globe. Collective action is something Mars strongly believes in, the ‘Pledge for Planet’ program encourages Mars's top 200 suppliers and asks them to be 100% renewable energy or to have a science-based target. Mars not only wants to see its own company exceed the sustainable goals they have but also encourages its suppliers to do the same “and if Mars can help that would be a great opportunity.” Putting the pressure on the top suppliers to change regulations to a more sustainable one, Mars also wants to be there to help come up with these initiatives and create innovations for them to utilize, “not only are we giving them an ask, but we are also saying by the way we are going to help you do it.”
The goal of thriving people is for Mars to meaningfully improve the lives of one million people in their value chain and enable them to thrive. Mars has achieved a lot in this sector, they have reached 233,000 people in improving human rights and income and have Human Rights Due Diligence systems activated in 100% of Mars manufacturing sites. In this sector, Mars focuses on its supply chain once again, the people working and living in the communities where they source raw materials. Mars and the ‘Farmers Income Lab work to improve farmers' livelihoods. They founded the lab to “enable farmers to earn a decent standard of living” because Mars believes “if we don’t take bold steps to address poverty in agricultural supply chains, continuity, quality, and availability of raw materials that are essential for agri-food businesses will be at a significant risk.” Not only is Mars concerned for their own business but for others too, therefore they have the ‘think-do tank’ which internally means figuring out interventions that corporations can make to address this risk. In 2020, a key highlight this pillar achieved was receiving more than $34 million in cash and kind donations to support communities that were suffering from Covid. Mars continues to create programs that put its people first and encourage suppliers to do the same.
The goal of nourishing well-being is to utilize advanced science, innovation, nutrition, and marketing to help billions of people and their pets lead healthier and happier lives. In 2020, Mars exceeded their ambitious goal of providing 1.2 billion healthy meals around the world, which was a goal set for 2021. Mars has opened global food safety centers to produce research that all companies can use for free, they invest in product and ingredient innovations and they are partnering with global organizations on responsible marketing. Mars also wants to associate health and well-being which is present in 64% of their sites but wants to establish energizing work culture in at least 95% of their sites by 2023. In 2020, Mars was able to donate 10 million meals as part of Covid relief and 6.5 million pet meals. All of Mars's Sustainable Generation Plan pillars have goals that the company actively incorporates programs to achieve and exceed, as science continues to advance their actions change accordingly in order to create a better future world.
“Farmer Income Lab.” Farmer Income Lab, https://www.farmerincomelab.com/.
2020 Scorecard - Mars.com. https://www.mars.com/sites/g/files/jydpyr316/files/2021-07/SIGP-Scorecard-2020_072729.pdf.
Mars is a privately held and family-owned global company. The origin of the company started with two men who discovered a passion for food but now over 100 years later the company has evolved into making a better life for people and their pets. Mars has always been a principles-led business that has set its eyes on the future. The company differs from most as they look at their business plan through the lens of generations rather than quarterly earnings or annual reports. The company prioritizes the next generation of people and pets on this planet which radiates into the inspiration of being such a sustainable organization and spreading encouragement to their suppliers to do so as well. “When you have the support of your board, you have the flexibility or the freedom to say ‘what are the threats to our business”. It is clear that the biggest threat to the business is the health of the planet and people. Investing in a long-term future for the business, people and the planet is the main focus of Mars. They are committed to being global leaders and finding solutions to challenges that impact the world for a healthy future for generations to come.
Mars has had several innovations which had made large impacts on society. One important factor when consideration the impact of the innovation on Mars itself, it was revealed they “continue to grow.” As a private entity, they are not bound by having to release their financial statements. They indicated they are a $40 billion corporation, despite losing 7.3% in investing in reducing greenhouse gases and emissions. By taking a slight loss in their large revenue, Mars indicates they are able to think long term for the betterment of the Earth.
Mars has specific impact on society. They enlisted recovery efforts during the COVID-19 era for families where they source their raw materials. By investing in a fund for relief directed to these societies, Mars managed to pledge over $39 million, and $5 million to CARE for other countries where their supply chains were located, such as West Africa and Latin America. Poverty was also an addressed point, as Mars works with several organizations to combat poverty in rural and agricultural areas.
Mars has also pushed the envelope on gender equality in communities where they source their supplies. By setting up women empowerment and removing gender bias, Mars is setting up a more fair society in these locations. In addition, human rights are just as important to them, as they pushed to accelerate efforts to fix the cocoa supply chain to cease exploiting child labor, while also paying farmers more to support growing cocoa more sustainably.
In regards to the environment, Mars focuses on many wide arrays for environmentally sustainable methods to better the planet. As previously mentioned, they intend to cease deforestation in areas their supply chains are in. Furthermore, their goals include reducing greenhouse emissions, unsustainable water use, land use, and plastic packaging.
Tackling deforestation can be a tricky task, but Mars has a Palm Positive Plan, which drastically reduces the number of mills from 1,500 to 100, while also rewarding cocoa farmers to find more sustainable methods for their farms. Similarly, they are looking for alternative ways to solve packaging and water issues. By reducing packaging, they managed to save over 51 tons of plastic per year. Similarly, with water, they are using alternative wetting and drying irrigation to improve water productivity.
Mars has presented a large emphasis on long term benefits for the world. However, they have been able to see success with their innovations in the short term. They are currently working with an organization named GuideHouse that will influence better sustainability programs. In the short term, Mars will find a small loss, but continually will challenge its suppliers to be more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, by creating a deforestation-free supply chain, the environment and sustainable energy has become higher in quality. In the future, this will be able to drive many organizations to be more environmentally friendly. By having key suppliers be more environmentally friendly by 2040, Mars will be reaching its desired levels of sustainability.
These impacts have been noted by Business Review (Cristea, 2021). The report indicates Mars is on track to their goals to better the environment and society.
Cristea, Mihai-Alexandru. “Mars Presents Progress Achieved with Its Sustainable in a Generation Plan.” Business Review, Business Review, 9 Sept. 2021, https://business-review.eu/greenrestart/mars-presents-progress-achieved-with-its-sustainable-in-a-generation-plan-223091.
“At Mars we’re accelerating our efforts to stop deforestation.” (Mars Deforestation Action). Deforestation has been a huge concern for not only society and the environment, but for businesses who gain the risks of losing customers, falling stock prices, and more - due to the destruction of our vast regions of trees.
One of the sustainability projects that Mars has accelerated is the effort to stop deforestation in all of their company’s supply chain procedures. Mars has also decided to suspend and remove suppliers who are not in compliance with this change in Mars’ supply chain structure. In order for suppliers to work with Mars, they must follow certain guidelines that stop deforestation processes from occurring in their company. Supplier’s must also be expected to “Support farmers and plantation owners to comply with Mars’ deforestation-related requirements”. (Mars Deforestation Position).
One of the long term goals for Mars is that their influence on sustainability can impact large global commodity supply chains to become deforestation-free as well. Mars theory of change for businesses includes “Mars’ long-term vision is to expand our influence beyond just the supply that we use, so that our suppliers prevent deforestation and land conversion throughout their full business.” (Mars Deforestation Position). In our interview with the Director of Sustainability Communications and Engagement at Mars, Dan Stretchay states “You can keep a much better eye on issues like deforestation if you have a smaller supply chain and more leverage with suppliers by saying - we can give you longer term contracts in exchange for doing business the right way.” (Dan Stretchay, Mars). This displays the fact that stopping deforestation would be highly beneficial for not only Mars, but for the companies and suppliers that they work with as well.
“You can’t stop climate change until you stop deforestation.” (Dan Stretchay, Mars). Mars has recognized the impact that deforestation has on society's health and the Earth’s ecosystems, and has decided to make an effort towards finding a solution for climate change in a variety of ways. While Mars is striving to stop deforestation in their supply chains, they are also developing key plans for some of their raw materials that they use including- cocoa, pulp and paper, palm oil, beef and soy.
Mars’ efforts in sustainability have benefited society by serving a role in the increased production of oxygen on our planet. By stopping deforestation- cutting down our forests for product use in businesses, Mars is allowing the trees to release oxygen and cut out the contribution of GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions in the air. GHG emissions are especially dangerous for us, as they can cause respiratory disease from air pollution. By lowering the amount of trees that are cut down, the more oxygen and purified air there is for society.
Mars’ approach to stopping deforestation also benefits the environment most of all by permitting trees to be the continuous homes of various plants and animals. By businesses being deforestation-free, the environment would be restored much quicker and ecosystems would not be damaged due to the cause of humans. “Mars’ position defines deforestation and conversion as: the conversion of natural forests and other natural ecosystems to agriculture, tree plantations, livestock production, or other land uses, as well as severe or sustained degradation.” (Mars Deforestation Action). Mars strives to find new ways in their business, where they can help to find a solution to climate change and create a healthier and safer environment for plants, animals, and humans.
Will.smith. (n.d.). Deforestation action overview: Mars, incorporated. Global Petcare, Food, Mars Wrigley and Edge Brands. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.mars.com/about/policies-and-practices/deforestation-action-overview
ratih_n. (n.d.). Deforestation & Land Use Change Position. Mars, Incorporated. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.mars.com/about/policies-and-practices/deforestation-policy
Dan Strechay, Director of Sustainability Communications and Engagement at Mars Incorporated
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Business Website: https://www.mars.com
Year Founded: 1911
Number of Employees: 10000+